Overview

How Do Online Classes Work?
How Do Online Classes Work?

Requirements

You must have internet access and a computer to take online classes.
You must have internet access and a computer to take online classes.

You need regular access to a computer to take online classes. If you do not have a computer at home, you can use the computer lab at your college or local library. You also need internet access. Dial-up access works, but high-speed internet will allow you to get through your schoolwork more quickly.

Assignments

You will have regular homework assignments in an online class.
You will have regular homework assignments in an online class.

Online classes have the same educational goals as regular classes. You are expected to read the assigned textbook and complete all homework assignments. You upload homework assignments so that the instructor can review them. Online classes also require participation. Students post questions and answers on the class discussion board. Most instructors give online students a grade for participation.

Exams

Online classes have "open book" quizzes and exams.
Online classes have "open book" quizzes and exams.

Exams are usually offered online. Some exams can be downloaded into a program, such as Microsoft Word, completed, and uploaded to the instructor. Other exams are taken through the class website. These may be timed. The exams are "open book" since the students are not sitting in a classroom.

Pros and Cons

If you are self-motivating, online classes could be an option for you.
If you are self-motivating, online classes could be an option for you.

Online classes can work well for busy students. You can log into class when it is convenient and attend class without ever leaving your home. However, online classes are not a shortcut to getting a degree. They require the same dedication as regular classes and a good deal of self-motivation. Some online classes require daily participation, which can actually make them more time consuming than classes a student would take on campus.